The Identity Series: Growing Up A Queer Latina

Gabriela Enamorado/Staff Writer

Growing up Latina came with a lot of great things. Culture, strength, resilience. It’s who I am and I’m proud of it. When I was about 16 I discovered I’m also bisexual. This added a whole other complicated layer to my identity. 

Being queer and Latinx is hard. As a queer Guatemalan-American girl, I often write about LGBT+ issues. When I was growing up in a Latinx household, I never heard anyone talk about LGBT+ issues and how they affect our community. I hope to be a voice to any queer Latinx kid out there looking for someone to understand them. 

The Latinx community can be pretty traditional and machista. In other words, it can be pretty homophobic. The main reason so many Latinx people can be homophobic is because of religious reasons. The Catholic church has a strong grasp across Latin America and my family. More than two-thirds of Hispanic people identify as Catholic. I was often told that gay people were seen as sinners. 

Being a Latina also meant living in a machista society meant being a proper lady in my house. Women should marry men and cater to them. We shouldn’t be vulgar, we should know how to cook and clean, and have plenty of babies. Being queer in any way shape or form was not in the plan. 

So, when I was a teenager and started to realize some things about myself, I was really nervous and confused. While my family was never violently homophobic, they definitely were uncomfortable with it and treated it as a taboo. Ever so often, I would hear offensive things about queer people and I would try to ignore it. So when I began to deviate from what was expected of me, it really affected me. 

I hope to be someone other queer Latinx kids can look up to and see themselves in.

I wasn’t sure how to go about it. In the media, there isn’t much queer Latinx representation and I didn’t know how people in my culture would react. I would only see white gay people on TV and how their experience was. When it came to LGBT+ history, queer Latinx were often overlooked or erased. Over the years, this has slowly changed and I have been able to see myself on screen more and more. I’ve also learned of famous LGBT+ Latinxs and their accomplishments. 

This is great, because then I was able to show my mother LGBT+ films and TV shows with queer Latinx characters. My mom was able to see that it’s not abnormal for our people to be queer. One of these shows was the POP TV’s sitcom “One Day at a Time, which has a lesbian Cuban-American character named Elena. My mom enjoyed watching it, and felt really bad for the negativity Elena experiences on the show. I think this helped my her understand my own experiences and feelings better. 

I’ve never really come out to anybody except my mom and some of my cousins, just because I’m still wary of how everyone will react. Many people in my family have made assumptions and choose to stay silent. But, slowly I’ve noticed that my family has become more supportive even if it’s in small ways. 

Now that I’m older and grown more comfortable in my identity, I hope to be someone other queer Latinx kids can look up to and see themselves in. Even if it is just by reading this, I hope someone else feels comfort in knowing someone else has gone through the same thing.

This article is the second in a series focusing on cultural identity.

DISCLAIMER:

The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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